Monday Dinner: Carolina and the Steve Smith problem

Scott Pianowski

Thirteen games, nine hours, a bunch of comments and observations. You know the drill.

Where do we go from here with Carolina's Steve Smith? It's incredibly frustrating that he didn't do a thing (one catch, four yards) against that spotty Tampa Bay secondary, though a buttoned-up game plan and a sketchy Jake Delhomme(notes) didn't help the cause. On one specific play I saw Smith beat his man and call for the ball, but the delivery came a few seconds late (and off target) – by then the initial Tampa defender arrived, with help. "Good coverage," mumbled the announcers. But that's really a flag on Delhomme, not Smith.

So what's your Smith plan going forward? What's the most you'd be willing to trade for him right now? If you own him, what's the smallest return you'd be willing to accept in a deal? Where would you rank him on your receiver list if you were walking into a new draft right now? Normally I'd make you wait for Shuffle Up and Deal for my answers on this, but I'm willing to discuss and debate Smith in the comments. We'll get through this together, gamers.

Let's consider the pros: Smith is still getting targeted plenty (45 times in five games); he's complained about his role in the offense, which often leads to a performance spike; he's already had the bye; and with the Panthers getting their running game going, eventually teams might start putting a safety in the box, taking more chances with downfield coverage.

And now for the cons: Carolina doesn't have another threat on the outside to lessen the attention Smith receives; Delhomme's play has been dreadful all year; given Smith's size and the scope of this offense, most of his scores will have to come from distance (remember he had a modest 13 scores the last two years combined).

Those are the facts as I see it. Your turn in the comments.

While Jim Zorn and Daniel Snyder get most of the blame in Washington these days, and justly so, let's not give Jason Campbell(notes) a free pass here. He couldn't put any points on the board in a half of play, at home, against a spotty Kansas City defense. His pocket awareness is awful, his decision-making is a constant problem. Campbell seems to have a legion of apologists out there and I've never understood why. He's part of the problem, too.

Let's try to remember the good old days with Dick Enberg, not the fading guy we hear now. Enberg's call at the Meadowlands on Sunday was almost as sloppy as the game itself, though it was kind of funny to hear him talk about Mark San-CHEZ when the Jets quarterback is SAN-chez to the rest of the world.

Louis Murphy's(notes) downfield blocking on the Zach Miller touchdown was my favorite play of the day (just nosing out the pigeon that joined the Raiders on kickoff coverage).

Ball security and pass blocking continue to be a problem with Beanie Wells(notes), which is a shame. There are 15 NFL clubs where he's be a perfect fit right now, be it as a two-down back or an electric change-of-pace guy. But he's a horrible fit for Arizona's unit, a pass-first group that has to scheme around its makeshift offensive line.

The Patriots took an awfully big chance exposing Tom Brady(notes) and friends a few series in the third period, up against a frustrated Tennessee defense. Why risk your franchise – heck, your season – in the third period of a blowout game?

If the Titans don't start Vince Young(notes) after the bye, they should just cut the guy and let him get on with his life. Your season is done at 0-6. Kerry Collins(notes) isn't the answer for 2010. Find out if Young is worth keeping; I think we all suspect he isn't, but you have 10 games to get a better idea on that.

It never rains in Southern California and the winds are pretty gentle too. Sorry about that, Mark Sanchez(notes). Good luck in the wind tunnel. The loss of Jerricho Cotchery(notes) probably had a big role in Sanchez's nightmare against Buffalo; most of the picks came on passes forced to Braylon Edwards(notes).

The Packers clearly don't trust their run blocking and Ryan Grant(notes) at the goal line – the play-calling tells you that.

Robert Meachem(notes) looked great on his one touchdown and he just missed a hat trick – one other reception finished at the 1-yard line and he narrowly missed on a red-zone throw. There are a lot of mouths to feed in that New Orleans passing game but nonetheless here's a receiver that needs a higher ownership tag.

Finally, the Red Zone Channel in HD. It was a glorious day in the living room.

For about 90 minutes, I totally forgot the Saints had Reggie Bush(notes). Just as well, he's just another guy on that offensive juggernaut.

The lesson of Owen Daniels(notes) – when you see a heavily targeted player with a ridiculously low rate of touchdowns to receptions, there's your buying opportunity. The flip side of this theme: Lance Moore's(notes) 2008 season (high rate of TDs) set him up to be a 2009 disappointment.

Houston might have the prettiest screen game in the league right now, though Cincinnati's defense clearly doesn't know how to defend against pass-catching backs. The Bears would be wise to take advantage of this with Matt Forte(notes) next week.

Maybe it was just coincidence and maybe not, but the Ravens passing game went ballistic right around the time Minnesota CB Antoine Winfield(notes) left the game.

Antwan Odom(notes) injury is a monstrous loss for the Bengals.

It would be nice if Troy Aikman could give you an insightful comment before he watches multiple replays. He either doesn't trust his first look on things or he doesn't see the first play accurately. To contrast this, listen to what Cris Collinsworth immediately offers us on any snap.

To my eye it sure seems like Minnesota's receivers are making Brett Favre(notes) look fantastic more than it's the other way around (Sidney Rice(notes) might be a Top 10 receiver someday). Granted, those guys must be thrilled to be in an offense that's no longer locked down by Tarvaris Jackson(notes).

I'm all for the Wildcatting of the NFL, but it's a mistake to get too cute with that stuff in the red zone – there's less field for the defense to be concerned about and you're no longer manipulating the safeties. The Browns threw away points when they let Joshua Cribbs(notes) throw the ball inside the Pittsburgh 20.

Mark Clayton(notes) couldn't make that easy fourth-down catch at New England but he outjumped two Minnesota DBs for a snappy score in Week 6. Sometimes a harder play encourages max concentration.

I'm all for the playability of Field Turf, but does it have to look so darn ugly?